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Mary Astor


Guest Griffin, Mark

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Guest Griffin, Mark

I watched Mary Astor's brilliant performance in "The Maltese Falcon" over the weekend (broadcast on TCM) and I never cease to be impressed with how versatile and talented this glammy character actress was. Mary's way with dialogue - from "Dodsworth" to "The Great Lie" - was always uniquely superlative. Apparently she could play anything - from devoted mothers ("Meet Me In St. Louis") to screwball matrons ("The Palm Beach Story") to tough talking dames ("Desert Fury"). This was an actress to be reckoned with! Listening to Mary Astor's beautifully crafted line readings in "The Maltese Falcon" reminded me that contemporary actresses (Meryl Streep aside) do not display anywhere near the same kind of confidence, control and facility for speaking dialogue as the Golden Age grand dames did (think also of Rosalind Russell, Marlene Dietrich and especially Katharine Hepburn...)

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Mark, we praised the talents of Mary Astor many times on these boards in the past and deservedly so. She was certainly an actress to be reckoned with although she eluded super stardom for some strange reason. I recall her lovely presence in the films that you listed and would also like to add "Red Dust" and "Hurricane" although my favorite remains "The Great Lie" for which she won an Oscar. Although she did not age gracefully (due to illness) she went out with a bang in "Hush...Hush Sweet Charlotte" once again with Bette Davis. By the way that kiss between Astor and Lizabeth Scott (mother and daughter) in "Desert Fury" was a humdinger.

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Guest son, jery

Mary Astor was some dame! You've gotta read her two book of memoirs, the first one entitled simply "Mary Astor" and the best of the two, "A Life on Film." In this one, Astor gives you all the nitty-gritty technical details about the making of ALL her movies--but especially what went on behind the scenes of "Red Dust," "Midnight," "The Great Lie," "The Maltese Falcon," "Meet Me in St. Louis," and so on. She hated Margaret O'Brien's bratty ways, adored Bette Davis, was desperately in love with John Barrymore--and ohhhh, that diary she wrote that created such a huge 30s scandal. She described in clinical detail why she simply adored certain famous men. Her father, by the way, was a real life Ernest von STroheim: he controlled her life, her money and her career until our Mary finally rebelled.

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Guest Dimeo, Nick

As a fan of Mary Astor I recommend checking out next month's Silent Sunday night feature of Don Juan to see a young Mary Astor act without spoken dialouge and succeding at it. My two favorite performances from Astor will always be in Red Dust, and The Maltese Falcon.

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DON JUAN is certainly worth checking out. My favorite Astor films are RED DUST and DODSWORTH. She is fabulous in RED DUST, and is the perfect contrast to Jean Harlow.

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Guest Griffin, Mark

Astor Admiration Society... Dear Mongo, Jery son, Nick & Alix: Thanks for expressing your appreciation of Mary Astor's splendid talents. You guys make this chat site a real joy to experience! Unrelated Topic: Do you think TCM will plan a tribute to the great show biz force known as Adolph Green ("On The Town," "Singin' In The Rain," "Auntie Mame") who passed away on Wednesday at the age of 86? Yet another unsung theatrical genius -- Take a look at that gentleman's astounding resume!

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Mark, Mary Astor has always held her own against some tough opponents. I honestly believe in the MALTESE FALCON she stole the picture from Bogart, Greenstreet & Lorre. Also in the "sudsy" melodrama THE GREAT LIE, again she stole the picture from "grand dame" Bette Davis.

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Guest Cat, Maggie the

I kinda doubt it. TCM only pre-empts for tributes to superstar actors and directors: Steiger and Wilder, yes; Frankenheimer, no. They did feature Comden & Green for a month a while back, so it's not that they don't appreciate Green's talent and contributions, but he's not quite high enough in the firmament to bollix up the schedule for.

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Did Mary's career suffer during the big, notorious trial--the one with the naughty diary? Can anyone remember if this occured in the early, late or middle 30's? I know stars in the 20's often didn't weather the storm when shocking news appeared in the papers about them (Arbuckle, for instance) but others in the 1930's seemed to do okay--like Jean Harlow.

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Guest son, jery

Alix, Mary Astor's scandal amazed all of Hollywood when it made her an even bigger star! She wrote in her first book of memoirs that the press had always liked her and they portrayed her as a "valiant, divorced mother of a child who was just trying to make a living." Her sleazy husband came off looking like the skunk he was in the press. I think this was the first Hollywood scandal that didn't destroy the star involved. It was repeated with Jean Harlow and the Paul Bern suicide case. If only Fatty Arbuckle, Mable Normand, Mary Miles Minter could have been so lucky!

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Poor Arbuckle really didn't have a chance, did he? He was tried, convicted and crucified before his case ever came to trial! And the apparent underhanded tactics of the police force made it even harder for him. I'd love to get the chance to see his "comeback" talkies--the shorts he made before he died. Think there's any chance?

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"Poor" Fatty was giving one of his **** parties and "in" for a good time. It was the roaring twenties and all hell broke loose with gin, women and song and poor Fatty should have known better.

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Guest Dimeo, Nick

Speaking of Mary Astor I just heard shock rocker Marilyn Manson say on The Tonight Show that he now lives in Mary's old mansion. That sound you hear is Ms. Astor rolling over in her grave!

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Guest Cat, Maggie the

Horsesh*t. It was a carefully planned smear. He wasn't responsible for Virginia Rappe's death. It is not unreasonable to assume she died from a botched abortion. Maude Delmont (aka Madame Black), the woman who claimed he had raped Rappe, was a known blackmailer. Her MO was to hire pretty girls to go to parties with famous actors and then claim they were raped. The victims were afraid of bad publicity, so they paid up. Arbuckle was tried, and not only was he acquitted, the jury issued a written apology:

 

Acquittal is not enough for Roscoe Arbuckle. We feel that a great injustice has been done him. We feel also that it was our only plain duty to give him this exoneration. There was not the slightest proof adduced to connect him in any way with the commission of a crime. He was manly throughout the case and told a straightforward story on the witness stand, which we all believed. The happening at the hotel was an unfortunate affair for which Arbuckle, so the evidence shows, was in no way responsible. We wish him success and hope that the American people will take the judgment of fourteen men and women who have sat listening for thirty-one days to the evidence that Roscoe Arbuckle is entirely innocent and free from all blame.

It was Citizen Hearst and Will Hays that did him in. Hearst later said the scandal had "sold more newspapers than any event since the sinking of the Lusitania." I'm surprised at you, mongo. I thought you knew more about Hollywood history than just about anyone here. Unless it's your opinion that the guy deserved to have his life ruined for partying for three days, in which case I just say, "What. E. Ver."

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Guest Cat, Maggie the

Eh, I doubt it. Ol' Mary was no saint, and Marilyn's only following in the venerable tradition of Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Ozzy Osbourne, and Alice Cooper.

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Sorry to disappoint you Maggie regarding my opinion of Fatty Arbuckle. However from the accounts of the incident that I read I'm convinced that the soused 300lb Mr. Arbuckle ravaged Miss Rappe in a savage manner which "contributed" to her death. I also detested the idea of a cover-up which was in the making. Why a cover-up? Then again I have a bad habit of taking the side of some victims especially if he or she are not alive to defend their reputations. Although the raven haired beauty Virginia Rappe may have slept around (Which most starlets did) she didn't deserve to die at age 25 due in large part to Fatty's frolics.

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I still say Roscoe Arbuckle was framed and ruined for a crime he didn't commit. His only crime, in my opinion, was that he didn't throw Maude "Bambina" Delmont and Virginia Rappe O-U-T when they showed up, uninvited, at his celebration party. In a HBO special I taped back in the 80's sometime, Viola Dana, silent film star, a contemporary of Arbuckle and one of his close friends, said that Miss Rappe was NOT a friend of his, and that usually people ducked a party that she was going to attend, because of her reputation. She said she'd never seen Rappe at any gatherings at Roscoe Arbuckle's home--and remember, she was reporting what she knew first hand! (This special was called "Hollywood's Hidden Secrets" and was narrated by Lauren Bacall by the way, and is excellent.) Dana also stated that many of his close friends, including herself, offered to testify on his behalf at his trials, but the studio refused to let them, lest they be tainted by association with Arbuckle, and not rake in the box office bucks! From what I've read, Miss Rappe did indeed die a terrible death--no one denies this. However, as Maggie stated, Roscoe was found innocent of the crime--and I believe the jury took about 3 minutes to decide, before writing the statement she quotes above. I find it sad that eighty years later, Arbuckle is still remembered as the fat comedian who raped the starlet. He deserves better, as the jury said so eloquently.

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Guest Cat, Maggie the

Well, mongo, I'm just curious as to how you formed those opinions. You talk about accounts that you've read; what are they? I'm getting the impression that they came from contemporary accountsin Hearst papers. What are they? Where are they? Like I said earlier, I got the link I provided via the Urban Legends Database. The fact that they haven't covered one of the biggest Hollywood scandals ever, instead providing a link to another site that covers the matter in detail, says to me that it's a reliable account. I trust the folks at snopes.com far more than the staffs of the New York Times and the Washington Post put together. I'm not going to get all graphic on ya, but a woman can't get a ruptured bladder from sex, OK? And the rupture was aligned with the abdominal muscles, which suggests that her vomiting was the cause.

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Guest Cat, Maggie the

Alix, he wasn't even the host; it was his buddy's party. And you're right. Delmont was some serious bad news. She had a record of extortion and blackmail as long as your arm. Rappé, however, I'm not so sure about. I don't think there's anything wrong with sleeping around. The sad thing is she didn't have access to good health care; or was too ashamed to seek it.

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